It’s not just a Caitlin Clark thing. Canada is ready to support women’s sports in a bigger way too!

Canadian Women & Sport and research and consultancy partner IMI Consulting released It’s Time: Unlocking the Power of Pro Women’s Sport Fans, presented by Canadian Tire Corporation, parent or SportChek and Helly Hansen. The authors said the report illustrates the tremendous value, current and potential, that fans of women’s sports in Canada represent for all manner of sport business.

The underlying research generated by a survey polling Canadians ages 13 to 65 found that two in three Canadians (67 percent) consider themselves to be fans of women’s sports, equivalent to more than 17 million Canadians. Canadian fans of women’s sport include coveted audiences like Gen Z, Millennials and families, as well as diverse, well-educated and affluent Canadians.

It’s Time: Unlocking the Power of Pro Women’s Sport Fans is reportedly the second in a series of research, thought-leadership and connection aimed at exploring the commercial opportunities of the Canadian women’s professional sport market. The first installment, It’s Time: Accelerating Professional Women’s Sports in Canada, was released in 2023.

Key Insights include:

  • Sixty-seven percent of Canadians ages 13 to 65 are fans of women’s sport.
  • Two in five Canadians ages 13 to 65 (41 percent or 10 million Canadians) consider themselves “avid fans” and regularly watch women’s professional or elite sport and/or tune in for major events including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • Canadian fans of women’s sport are more diverse, educated and affluent than the general population of Canada.
    Women’s sport is popular among people of all genders. Slightly more than half (53 percent) are men, and the balance of fans are women (46 percent) and gender-diverse people (1 percent).
  • Eight in 10 fans of pro women’s sport are excited about the future of women’s sport in Canada and, if given the opportunity, are eager to engage further in various ways.
  • Unlocking the power of fans requires investment. Fans want and need Canadian teams to cheer for, and a high-quality and readily available product to watch, follow, and engage with.
  • Canadians see women’s sport as athletic and exciting. And, there is a tremendous appetite for more.
  • Six in 10 fans think brands should do more to support women’s sport in Canada, and 4 in 10 fans are more likely to purchase from brands that support women’s sport. This jumps to 5 in 10 among Gen Z and young Millennials.

“We have seen trends and proof points over the past few years, but now we have credible—and uniquely Canadian—data demonstrating that fans of women’s sport are a large, attractive audience for brands and investors,” says Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO at Canadian Women & Sport. “Women’s pro sport is no longer a hypothetical opportunity. Case studies have been written, potential has been realized, and records have been broken. It’s time for more bold investment in professional women’s sport in Canada.”

“At Canadian Tire Corporation, we know that to truly champion professional women’s sports, we must create a roadmap for other Canadian organizations to understand and invest in its untapped potential,” said Ashley Curran, AVP, sport partnerships, Canadian Tire Corporation. “Together with the findings of the first installment, this new research provides us with invaluable data that not only furthers our understanding of the professional women’s sport movement but allows us to create meaningful connections with the fanbase that drives it.”

“The accomplishments and leadership of Canadian women in sports are inspiring young girls and women,” added the Honorable Marci Ien, minister for women and gender equality and youth (WAGE). “Studies like this show how fans of professional women’s sports influence change. Athletes aren’t just role models—they also play a significant role in growing the economy and fostering prosperity. WAGE is happy to help organizations like Canadian Women & Sport who encourage athletes and fans to participate in the collaboration and community of sports. It’s not just about putting money into sports; it’s about making sure everyone—athletes, fans, and future generations—can reach their full potential.”

The research was led by IMI Consulting, presented by Canadian Tire Corporation, and with support from Women and Gender Equality Canada and oversight from a Canadian Women & Sport advisory group composed of leaders representing media, corporate brands and sport properties.

This study was conducted in October 2023 with a representative sample of over 2,000 Canadians aged 13–65. The study set out to map the current Canadian fan of women’s sport, as well as the fan base potential going forward. The work was strategically designed to offer key partners and audiences fresh insights on how to grow fandom and how, ultimately, fans can help unlock a new era of growth and opportunity for women’s professional sport in Canada.

To learn more, go here.

Image courtesy AP